|General Info||RUIN: Chichen Itza (3)||$0.00||A large pre-Columbian city built by the Maya people of the Terminal Classic period|
|General Info||RUIN: Izamal (1)||Wikipedia||$0.00||Mexico has 35 towns that are considered magical and one of them is here in Yucatán… just 45 minutes from Merida. Izamal is one of Yucatan’s two magical towns (the other is Valladolid). Izamal is an important archaeological site of the Pre-Columbian Maya civilization.|
|Bed and Breakfast||Bacalar House||AirBnB||Valladolid||$100.00||Jorge is great to deal with. Great communication, very friendly and helpful. The place is fairly central, within walking distance of the ADO (bus) station and town center. It is quite basic (to be expected, at the price), has a good kitchenette, and has easy access to the highways. It does have some drawbacks, though. There are some challenges with water pressure. There are essentially no windows. The WiFi is unpredictable: it can be strong, it can be weak, or it can be out entirely (when this happens we found that unplugging the router for 30 seconds fixed it). You're on a major thoroughfare and the traffic goes, non-stop, past the place. The mattress doesn't have much padding, so you feel every single spring. But, if you're prepared for these things, it can be a great home base for your adventures in the area, and there's no reason why you can't enjoy your stay. We did.|
We rose and shone early and took the "little" highway out to Izamal (highway 11 via Tinum, Balantun, Dzitas, Quintana Roo, Tunkas and Sitilpech. Sitilpech didn't show on my map, and their municipal building said something about Izamal on it, so we thought we were in Izamal. The info wasn't adding up, though, and we were discussing what to do when we were invited to take a tour of the local church. We took the tour, and when we reached the top of the church, our tour guide pointed out Chichen-Itza in the distance one way, and then Izamal in the distance the other way. Ohhhhhhhhhh!!
Izamal was a delightful little town, and the pyramid was just one small part of it. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the town, and would happily go back again.
Making some hard decisions about what to "leave on the table" and what to do, we continued on to Chichen-Itza. We've heard that people don't like it as much as some of the other sites, but hey... we're in the area, so we GOTTA go see the most famous Mayan ruin site, right? Well, what they say about it being crowded and very touristy is absolutely correct, HOWEVER, the site is absolutely worth visiting. It is enormous, and impressive. We paid extra to get a personal tour guide, and I'm so glad we did. Louis was fantastic. He's Mayan, and very knowledgeable about Chichen-Itza and the history. His first language is Mayan, so he taught us some words (which we promptly forgot, except for Ma'alo kim (happy trails), which I wrote down. I cannot stress this enough... visit Chichen-Itza and GET THE GUIDE. It made the difference for me between loving it and (probably) hating it.
Left on the table for a future trip: Uxmal, Ek Balam, and the Cenote in Valladolid.
Church at Sitilpech
Top of the church at Sitilpech
Plaza at Izamal
Colorful cemetary along Highway 180 west of Chichen-Itza
The ceremonial pyramid at Chichen-Itza
You can see how the pyramid continues underground
The Mayan/Toltec altar (i.e., human sacrifice)
According to Louis, the Mayans didn't practice human sacrifice. The Toltecs brought it with them when they came to the area after the Mayans had been here for 400 years.
The observatory at Chichen-Itza
Me with Louis, our guide, at Chichen-Itza